After defeating Army 5-2 on Friday, the UConn men’s hockey team will continue its season-opening road trip against Quinnipiac on Tuesday night.
Five different Huskies scored in the victory, including Benjamin Freeman and Alexander Payusov, the top-returning point-getter and top-returning goal scorer respectively. One of the Huskies’ 12 new players, Ruslan Iskhakov, also found the back of the net.
UConn (1-0) is hoping to build off a strong 2017-2018 season that saw the Huskies finish tied for fifth in Hockey East. It was their best finish since joining the conference in 2014. This is the first year that the roster is composed of players that have only known UConn in Hockey East. In three of the last four seasons, the Huskies have surpassed their initial preseason expectations.
Their ability to make that four in five years will largely hang on the shoulders of goaltender Adam Huska. Last year, Huska finished with a 2.59 goals allowed average in an impressive but injury-plagued sophomore campaign. It’s difficult enough to project a team year to year without having to factor in 12 new players, but with newly christened team captain Miles Gendron patrolling the blue line, UConn should once again have a scoring defense in the top half of the conference. Couple that with the offensive firepower of this new class (which includes four NHL draft picks), and UConn should be able to hang with the best that Hockey East has to offer.
Quinnipiac also came out on top in their season opener, a 3-2 win in Vermont. Odeen Tufto, the Bobcats’ leading point getter from last year, is looking to cement his place in program history. Tufto isn’t one to light the lamp himself; he usually prefers others to do the scoring. His 32 assists last season were the sixth most in the program’s Division I history. Alex Whelan, the team’s leading scorer last season, is also back in the Quinnipiac blue and yellow.
The Bobcats were able to come out on top during their last meeting with UConn in February. The Huskies struggled to generate any offense and finished the game with only 21 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss.
The two in-state rivals will drop the puck at 7 p.m. at the People’s United Center in Hamden, Connecticut.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.